Sunday, 11 December 2011

Humanity's Heir - Petrarchan sonnet

It started with the planting of a seed:
He ploughed her, tilled down into her rich loam.
After several weeks she knew her home
To have a third member: with child, they agreed.
They began preparations: changes decreed.
She didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, her body a throne -
A royal palace, an ivory dome.
But soon, water broken, she was due to conceive.

In labour for hours she pushed on through
Until she was born, their darling daughter.
But how queer! Her features were so unlike theirs,
Her nose was unlike, her eyes were too.
But for this they did not slight nor fault her:
World in miniature, she was humanity’s heir.

Pain - ghazal

Let me start by making the case plain:
life is full of constant pain.

An invisible tapestry stitched like rain
you feel its cool presence, the hand of pain:

we must go buy food again,
pay the bills and appease this pain.

And yet our masks paint us sane,
no other way to deal with pain;

turned away from ardour’s grain,
stork to stork, friends in pain:

secretly longing, mouthing consummation’s name,
barriers to body inflict their pain.

Wolves and sheep in a smoke haze
under scrutiny of spyglass pain,

consumed, consuming; dead and slain,
the world births us, we feel its pain.

But why should we hold this chain,
enchained in self-flagellating pain?

Its bonds are cool and it makes us lame.
O! how I long for the happy death of pain!

Yet often have I wondered of its self-shame.
Does it pity itself, agonise itself – pain?

If not through love then through bright fame
can that give restful peace to this wearied pain?


My huge skull a cage of curved teeth,
I shall have my fill, shred flesh.
I grind the bones of young and old, feast
deeply: a terrible lizard, it is said.

I stalk this swamp, smelling the air
for the stink of my prey or decaying flesh.
Clumsily, I trundle and comically scare:
my arms prongs, but a terrible jaw to impress.

The outlook for this evening is moderate to fair;
I love this temperate clime, it’s twilight now.
The blackness strung above me is an inky blare
pocked with a thousand dead eyes, rolled white, staring down.

But lo, something comes, approaching like a ghost.
The horizon is tipped with light, though not by the lantern of the Sun.
A seam of fire splits the sky, descending parasite to host,
though I am not quickened, too dumb to run.

Somewhere far ahead a lightshow erupts:
plumes of white light reign up, spirits, angels,
suspended far above for the sky to cup.
But soon they rain down in sharp deadly angles.

I dumbly twist my head from side to side:
all is noise and desperation, cries and flight.
And soon I hear a rumbling, a guttural cry -
like the bellows that come with my tender bite.

The noise increases, the horizon grows dark:
a grey wall of ash washes over the land;
shoulder to shoulder as myriad beasts in march,
a dark and infinite all-consuming hand.

As fire rains down, as stars fall from the sky,
I see a small furry creature scuttling to its hole.
I think, ‘I wouldn’t touch you with yours, why
do you run so with your puny bones and skull?’

As I look upon this creature, a vision flashes across my mind:
I see a small shape ascending a tree,
and after eons and ages of geological time
it descends again, larger, with an axe on its knee;

and mirrored in the approaching vortex of swirl,
whose hot breath seems to lap at my skin,
I see it writ, I am man: destroyer of worlds.
Then I’m taken into the obscure, dark wind.

Saturday, 24 September 2011


You cannot document madness
until you yourself
have become mad,
but by then maybe it's
too late.

Imagine Nietzsche,
his brain out of breath.
Imagine Plath or Hemingway
on the bony knee of death.

Some people aren't mad,
but still there's a disconnect,
something clicked - or maybe it's
a form of genius.

See Hunter S. Thompson
or Cobain, a fine spattering
of blood and brain.

Shall we ride the madness train?
If you get on, there'll be no alighting:
you'll be frothing, fuming, rocking
and maybe, all the while, quietly writing.

The Dead

Some people never smile -
they are like horses,
only far less

They bitch and they moan,
and they sulk,
and they take the piss,
laughing from green
distended lips.

Some people never smile -
only at the misfortune of others.
They cry at the thought
of the dead and suffering in Calcutta,
but they spit in the faces
of their sisters and brothers.

They give not a nod
of exception,
nor a wink
of understanding,
but rather a snarl, hidden
in the corner of a smile.

They consummate
in the act of hate,
by honour they're beguiled:
they are the dead
of a million
golden, gleaming

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Consummation

It was after dinner.
We, in her large and open flat.
'How are you feeling?' she said.
'Fine,' I said.
'Sure?' she replied.
'Yes,' I smiled, and I kissed her gently
on the lips.

A voice somewhere inside of me
cracked my nerves, 
and I carried her small, sweet frame
to the bed.

With no thought of proceedings,
her eyes, small twitching nose, thin lips,
two rows of perfect slanted teeth,
calling, but hands communicating
a gentle intent,
I unclothed her, slippered her shoes
from her feet,
lead her upwards to the throne,
sacrificed her flickering innocence
to the god of love.

An Imprint

You only know
an imprint of me:
a whisper
or a harsh word.
I caress like the sea,
I've all the madness of the Sun.
The anger in me
peels like a rune,
as the Moon,
a stranger on the run.

You only know a side of me;
less like a coin,
more a regular solid.
A platonic shape,
with shades and grooves.
I'm birdsong, and yet squalid,
a rushing wave,
the invisible crest of a ripple,
a seamless green glade,
the nut of a lover's nipple.

I float with tiny levity,
am drawn by such harsh gravity;
the trees and sky call to me,
the buildings and roads call to me
in a fell and whisperous malady.
I lend my ears,
give my tongue,
I'm standing on a lower rung.
I'm torn between sung and unsung.
I'm on the rack. At the front, at
the back. In the light. In the
gloom. In a room.

I am borrowed,
I am loud, I am
madness, I am
peace. I am a white and
naive beast, a soft and jagged
fleece. I am a smile and a star
winking hot and cooling fast.
You only know an imprint,
a side of me, a thumbprint
with a fractured edge, broken
in touch, or lack of it.
Everything resides in me:
the brakes and the alacrity.

P.S. I don't know what the fuck this is: it kinda got a bit out of hand! But I hope you like it nevertheless.


Our bones connect us
in a chalky prayer, the marrow
hands held upwards to the font.

You see a dog.
Behind its canine exterior,
a small curved skull with teeth,
a tail, several bones in succession.

A small puppy, ears
folded over, dog-eared, lolling,
its small feet soft and
coiled tail bouncing,
and underneath
a faint white shadow of bone.

You see a child,
not yet quite skeletal,
more embryonic in form:
you couldn’t imagine a skull
behind such small and perfect eyes.

And yet we calcify.
Just like dinosaurs of old.
We are the dog’s dinner,
and the dog’s dinner
is not so bad.

We will sleep an eternal
sleep. Weep the weeping
of eternal and unfinished dreaming.
We are connected through
the chalk of our bones, and we 
rub off on one another,
a white sea unseeming.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Pool Pickup

for Chris Peckett

I was splishing and splashing at the shallow end;
sploshing and splashing, wanting a friend.
Swimsuit-clad women doing eager lengths,
whilst I crouched in the corner panting for breath.
On the tail-end of a length a girl came my way,
a brunette siren – I’d need something to say.
I saw a face coming closer, hands parting water,
then she rose, making ripples,
and her breasts made me falter.
(Her boobs were more like floating devices –
like buoys out at sea preventing a crisis.)
She came to the end, eager to go.
I longed to grab hold so she’d take me in tow.
But what to say? Hello, love,
they say we’re different strokes,
but let me give ‘em a feel – show me the ropes.
Or come here often? Fancy havin’ a swim?
There were many things to be said on a watery whim.
But all that came out was a weak wheezy ‘whaaaaa....’
It’s safe to say my pool pickup failed.
She left me behind on the jetty of fate
and made for the deep end, my sensuous mate.
I did one more length and recoiled in cramp.
Fuck it, I thought, I’m going home for a wank.

Food for Thought

I once met a man with a Cumberland sausage
who liked a lady with Yorkshire puddings.
She had a friend who was a right Lancashire Hotpot.
This friend fancied a man with Brighton rock
(although his packet of butter had become a soft block).
He pined after a man from Eccles
who had a flaky face and freckles.
This man had a friend who used food-related language,
but for whose sake? He loved the Earl of Sandwich.

‘A trip to see the Earl’s Grave?’ he’d say.
‘That’d be Kendle Mint Cake!’
This man’s friend’s lover was called Patsy,
Cornish by birth –
apparently she liked hers with extra girth.
Her friend, Eclaire, had chocolate hair
and she’d always make a mess –
cake, ice-cream, Snickers: 
she stained her school prom dress.
She danced at this prom with a boy from Stains
(the food references stop here, I’m afraid).

This boy’s older brother was giving the shaft
to an Oxbridge girl, her bony knees like a calf's.
A political prodigy, the Coalition picked her up.
An awful mission, she did nothing but stress;
she thought, What’s the point? What the fuck?
I tell you, this country's a right bloody Eton Mess.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Holocene (villanelle)

Somewhere, on the moor, the river fills.
The river turns, the river breaks,
The river runs the ragged hills.

The river’s wild, but the moor is still.
The forked sky heaves and shakes.
Somewhere, on the moor, the river fills.

The river seeks to quietly kill;
The watershed is peaked and quakes,
The river runs the ragged hills.

The tors are swallowed, the river wills
to flood the reservoirs and lakes.
Somewhere, on the moor, the river fills.

Lightning and convulsion, the clouds distil
their heavy load, the ice to take.
The river runs the ragged hills.

The river has the land to till;
The river turns, the river breaks.
Somewhere, on the moor, the river fills.
The river runs the ragged hills.